ByÂ Nika Thounaojam:
The North East Indian community residing outside the North East (NE) region in the rest of India have long since been victimized by certain ignorant and closed minded section of the Indian society. Be it taunts and insults based on their different looks, or physical assaults on them, probably because they are a minority and less likely to retaliate. Reports of such incidents have more than increased in the past few months.
The latest incident in this line are the attacks on NE people in Pune by some alleged Muslim extremists. This issue is slightly different in that – it is supposedly related to the Bodo and illegal Bangladeshi immigrant clashes that have engulfed Assam. However, the feeling of being specifically picked out and targetted because of their looks or race is the same in all these instances.
The Pune incident is in part, a consequence of the National Media declaring the clashes in Assam to be a Bodo-Muslim one, which is entirely false. And partly due to the ignorance of the Muslim extremists who allowed themselves to be swayed by the grossly untrue statements that were published. A small enquiry or research into the matter would have established that religion has no basis in the Assam issue. This however was not taken into account and the few untruths gleaned from certain newspapers likely fuelled them to carry out the attacks. The old adage goes “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing“. Nothing could be more true in this instance.
Another factor that seemsÂ to have contributed to these attacks is an MMS clip that shows footage of violence in some South Asian country. This clip has reportedly been misconstrued as being that of the Assam clashes and spread among the masses.Â But no matter what the cause be, the bottom line is that innocent victims have been harmed for no fault of theirs.
The situation in Pune is grim. Leaders of various NE students organisations have advised students and professionals alike not to step outside after 7 pm. Several helplines have also been set up. They are all Indians, yet they are made to feel like targeted refugees in their own country.
The 8000+ strong NE community in Pune are worried and wonder who will be attacked next. Parents have started considering calling their wards home. The public in NE states are furious over this spate of attacks. Are we waiting for them to retaliate?
As of now, unconfirmed reports of attacks on NE people in Bangalore are pouring in. Whether they are genuine or not is not known. But what is known and confirmed are the similar attacks on people of NE origin in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
Are we waging a war with ourselves by engaging in this kind of a discrimination?